The new year has arrived, and we celebrated the most hedonistic of holidays. Celebrate to excess on New Year’s Eve, while counting down the inevitable.Then, lounge about on New Years Day, watching parades and bowl games. The only honoree is Father Time, who appropriately changes into an infant at midnight. What symbol is more self absorbed? The only gifts given are those that are to be consumed that day.
The very idea reminds me of the most fundamental rule of advertising. To promote a product, appeal to one of the seven deadly sins. Pride, envy, gluttony, lust, anger, greed and sloth may carve your path to Hades, but suggesting that your brand will feed any of these will help make that brand successful.
How many times have you been attracted to a product that made one of these promises?
- A beer that makes you popular with women (beer teaches marketing, I always say).
- A car that makes others stop and look at you drive down the street.
- A restaurant where you feast like a king.
- A cake mix that lets you get back at the perennial baking queen by just opening a box.
- Financial services that make you wealthier.
- A home appliance that does the work for you.It works.
Plain and simple. So when you are about to find a marketing angle for your next project, be sure to ask how that product will make the user envied, sexy, rich, pretty, fat or lazy.
You would expect that the artist at an advertising agency is the creative team, and the numbers geeks in data selection are the analytical ones, wouldn’t you? In fact, most people would bet on it.
However, the opposite is true. Sure, each of them are mired in the rolls we expect them to hold, but the geniuses in each of those areas are the ones who employ the opposite talent.
The list is the most important part of an advertising campaign. How do we get our message most efficiently in front of the right audience? No matter the media, we can find a lot of data about audience behavior. What they do for a living, how much money they make, their family structure and set of beliefs tell us a lot about the products they are likely to purchase. But everyone knows that. Your competitors know that. To set yourself above the rest, you need someone who can read into all that data, information that isn’t obvious.
For instance, if you are selling carpet cleaning, find pet owners, or homeowners with children. Their dirty carpets need cleaning. But how about identifying drivers of cherry red Ford Mustangs? That color is daring and catches attention when sparkling clean. That group is likely to be particular about their surroundings and fond of cleanliness. You may find a golden audience with that group. Create a message just for them, and you are likely to find success.
So now, you move that assignment to the creative team. Their task is to develop a message that promotes the need of clean carpets to the audience of proud red Mustang owners. It must convey a sales offer, and hold true to the branding requirements of the offeror (let’s hope their corporate colors don’t clash with a red Mustang) and must do so within the physical limits of the media chosen. A 30-second TV spot, print on a 6″ x 11″ postcard, or remain under the seven words readable on billboards of various, unknown placements.
The creative team does what they do under more rules than we know, whereas, the audience identification crew starts with accepted knowledge, and has unlimited imagination available to them to enhance the program’s reach.
If a program is successful, you can probably count on one of those teams being able to use the other side of their brain to lead the success.
It is the last season of Mad Men. Of course, I enjoy the show. How could I not? I live it here, right down to smoking in the office (don’t tell the city please). We even have a retro martini bar that is our favorite stop after work.
But there is one thing about the show that bugs me. In advertising, the era of the 60s was famous for its use of advertising icons. In fact, many of those icons have endured until today. Tony the Tiger, The Green Giant and Mr. Clean were but a few still in use. But Josephine the Plumber, the Ajax White Knight and the Frito Bandito were all icons created in the Sixties as well.
So why do we never see Don Draper pitching the use of an icon in the show? It almost seems deliberate that they ignore that part of 1960s advertising. Perhaps an episode that showed Don Draper pitching Cap’n Crunch would be bad for his image. More likely, creating an advertising icon is a lot more work than can be whipped out in a show that has enough realism on its plate to begin with. Either way, to me it is the most glaring omission in an otherwise wonderfully realistic show.
In case you wonder just how prevalent these icons were in that era, here is a list of some that were either created or had their most popular days in that era.
Tony the Tiger Norelco Santa NBC Peacock
Jolly Green Giant The Pillsbury Dough Boy Speedy Alka-Seltzer
Marlboro Man Aunt Jemima Betty Crocker
Madge from Palmolive Josephine the Plumber Mr. Clean
Cap’n Crunch Count Chocula Quisp and Quake
Frankenberry White Knight from Ajax Frito Bandito
Hawaiian Punchy Mr. Whipple Maytag Repairman
Juan Valdez Mr. Peanut Campbell Kids
Charlie Tuna Elsie the Borden Cow Lucky Charm Leprechaun
Sonny of Cocoa Puffs Toucan Sam The Twenty Mule Team
Trix Rabbit Geoffery The Giraffe Mrs. Olson
Raisin Bran Sun Quaker Oats Man Ronald McDonald
Wendy of Wendy’s Morris the Cat Choo-Choo Charlie
Cornelius the Kellogs Corn Flakes Rooster The Hamm’s Bear